What does it take to adopt a child in Lucas County? Here are the answers, straight from Lucas County Children's Services.
Where The Children Come From
At any given time, Lucas County Children Services is actively seeking adoptive homes for 50-75 children. These are children who have been abused or neglected; most are living in foster care while waiting for a permanent home. They are in the permanent custody of LCCS because the problems in their family could not be fixed.
Most of the children are beyond the infant and toddler stage (unless you would consider adopting siblings); nonetheless, they need the love, guidance and security that only a permanent family can provide.
There is an age requirement -- adoptive parents must be at least 18 years old. They must also have income sufficient to meet the needs of their household. However, cultural factors such as race, marital status, sexual orientation, ethnicity and religious affiliation have no bearing. It also does not matter if adoptive parents rent or own their home, or whether they have children of their own.
Most important is the desire and willingness to share yourself, your love and your home with a child who needs you!
The Adoption Process
Prospective parents should expect the adoption process to take six months to one year from the time they first submit their application. Applicants must complete a home study and training prior to adopting a child. Once a child is placed into an adoptive home, LCCS offers counseling and other services to help the family adjust and bond. Six months after the placement, the adoption is finalized and custody of the child transfers from LCCS to the adoptive parents.
Training is required for all adoptions through LCCS. This 24-hour course is offered free of charge by the agency.
Prior to approval, adoptive parents complete the home study process. LCCS adoption assessors visit the home and talk to the prospective parents about their expectations, their thoughts about a child's biological parents, and the needs of children waiting to be adopted. While this is not a "white glove test," the home must have adequate space and accommodations for the child. A working telephone, smoke alarms and fire extinguisher are also required. Additionally, Children Services may ask for inspections of the electrical circuitry and water.
Children Services asks potential adoptive parents to provide four personal references, three of which are non-relatives.
Children Services checks each adoptive parent application against criminal records and the agency's case records. Minor criminal offenses do not necessarily rule out an applicant. However, individuals who have serious offenses such as drug trafficking or a crime against a child (i.e. endangering, assault) are disqualified.
State law requires a medical statement from a licensed physician for all members of the household, including children. This is necessary to ensure that the adoptive parent(s) and others living in the home do not have any physical, emotional or mental condition that would endanger a child.
For children who qualify -- and most of those adopted through Lucas County Children Services qualify -- there are state and federal subsidies available during the adoption process. These monthly payments are generally provided until the child turns 18. Also, LCCS provides a subsidy above and beyond the state and federal supports.
Additionally, Lucas County Children Services offers free post-adoption support services to all adoptive parents residing in Lucas County, regardless of where they adopted their children. These services include educational and support groups, case management, information and referral, advocacy and respite care among others.
Lucas County adoptive parents are honored at an annual recognition banquet. Also, during the month of November (National Adoption Month) many adoptive parents share their experiences with the media in an effort to promote the need for more permanent homes for children.
There is virtually no cost for adoption through LCCS. In most cases, adoptive parents do not pay court costs, attorney fees, nor medical fees prior to the adoption being finalized.